News And Events


Central Pennsylvania Area High School Students 
to Vie for Chance to Compete in the
34th English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition at Lincoln Center in New York.

Central Pennsylvania, February 12, 2017  --  

The Central Pennsylvania heat of the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition will take place on  Saturday, February 18, 2017 ( Snow date, Sunday February 19, 2017 in the Parson Union Building at Lock Haven University hosted  by the ESU Central Pennsylvania Branch.  It is open to the winners of area high school Shakespeare competitions that have been held this winter.  It is expected that 9 students representing Central Pennsylvania private and public high schools will participate.  Each one will perform a Shakespearean monologue of his or her choice and recite a sonnet.  Competitors will be judged on their understanding of the texts they perform and on their ability to communicate that understanding to an audience. Judges for the Branch Competition include Charles Dumas, Professor Emeritus from PSU Theatre program,  MG Gainer and Jessica Hylton, Professors at Lock Haven University , Clark Nicholson, Artistic Director of The Gamut Theatre, Harrisburg, and John Woznak, Professor of English Saint Francis University, Loretto, PA.  The competition is free and open to the public.

The English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition isa performance-based education program in which high school students nationwide read, analyze, perform, and recite Shakespeare's works.  Through the program, students develop communication skills and an appreciation of the power of language and literature.  In the Competition's three progressive levels, students perform in their own schools, at ESU Branch community competitions, and at the ESU National Shakespeare Competition at Lincoln Center Theater in New York City.  Since 1983, more than 300,000 young Americans of all backgrounds have taken advantage of this opportunity to bring the timeless works of Shakespeare to life and learn to express his words with understanding, feeling, and clarity.

The winner of the ESU Central Pennsylvania Branch Competition will receive an all-expense-paid trip to New York City to represent the Branch in the ESU National Shakespeare Competition at the world-renowned Lincoln Center Mitzi Newhouse Theater on May 1, competing with 55 winners of other Branch competitions nationwide.  On stage, each will perform a monologue and sonnet before a panel of distinguished judges as well as their fellow contestants. Based on their performances, seven to ten students will advance to a final round. Those finalists, performing their selections along with a cold reading of a monologue, compete for the first place award, which is an all-expense-paid scholarship to attend the American Shakespeare Center's summer Theater Camp in Staunton, VA.  For additional information regarding the English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition, please click here

Founded in 1920, The English-Speaking Union is a non-profit, non-political educational organization that employs English as a catalyst to foster global understanding and good will through educational and cultural exchange programs.  The ESU carries out its work through a network of 58 Branches nationwide along with affiliates in the United Kingdom and 60 other countries. For additional information about the English-Speaking Union, please click here

The February 18, 2017 event celebrates the 30th Central Pennsylvania Branch Shakespeare Competition. It acknowledges the Honorable Robert A. Brand who retired to State College, PA after a career as an Assistant Secretary of State under the Reagan Administration, as US Counsel for General to the UK under Margaret Thatcher, and as Captain of the First Infantry Division in WWII, when he had the privilege to meet Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the Queen "Mum".  Additionally, he had held the position of president of the Washington Branch of the English Speaking Union (ESU), and in 1986, with his wife, Josephine M. Brand, Robert (Bob) founded the Central Pennsylvania Branch of the English Speaking Union (ESU).

The pilot program for an ESU Shakespeare Competition began in the New York City schools in 1983.  As a National ESU board member, Robert Brand was instrumental in establishing the Shakespeare Competition as a National ESU event featuring competition among winners from all ESU branches across the United States.  The first Central PA Branch Shakespeare Competition was held in 1987, and our branch had the distinction of being one of the first branches whose high school winner participated in the first annual National Shakespeare Competition in New York City.

The high school students, who over the 30-year history of the event have benefited from the opportunity to compete for a spot to represent the Central PA Branch of the ESU at the National ESU Shakespeare Competition in New York City each year, owe the pioneer, Robert (Bob) Brand, a debt of gratitude.

For details about the ESU Central Pennsylvania Branch or to join the Branch please visit

Contact:  Bonnie M. Resinski
Central PA Branch Shakespeare Coordinator,


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